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Dan Christensen, artist used spray gun

NEW YORK -- Dan Christensen, a painter who stretched the styles of the New York School by using a spray gun to apply loops of colors onto canvas, has died. He was 64.

Mr. Christensen, of East Hampton, died there Jan. 20 of heart failure due to polymyositis, a muscle disease, according to the Spanierman Modern gallery in Manhattan, which is exhibiting his work.

Two days before his death -- and still painting -- he attended a reception at the East Side gallery, where more than 20 pieces representing his four decades of creativity were on display.

"He was here, surrounded by his friends, family and admirers. He was in very good spirits," said Allegra LaViola, associate director of the Spanierman Modern.

Mr. Christensen's works, which sell for around $5,000 to $150,000 each, also have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, both in New York, and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.

"He was an extremely experimental painter. He never just took the easy route and stuck to just one thing," LaViola said. "He was always pushing himself to find a voice. He stretched himself to the limits of Abstract Expressionism to develop his style."

That style was often inspired by painters of the New York School like Jackson Pollock and Helen Frankenthaler.

Born in Cozad, Neb., Mr. Christensen decided to become a painter after taking a trip to Colorado as a teenager and seeing Pollock's work.

Mr. Christensen graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri in 1964, and moved to New York the next year.

By 1967, he had started using a spray gun to paint the colorful loops that became his artistic signature. He started by spraying over pieces of tape which, when removed, left a series of tightly wound loops that spill into freer brushes of color.

His later works evolved into bold splashes of expression, with colors shaped into soft circles or a translucent, improvised delicacy.

Mr. Christensen leaves his wife, Elaine Grove; their sons James and William, of Brooklyn; a son from a previous marriage, Moses Lindebak, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; plus two sisters and a brother.

He was to be buried at Green River Cemetery in East Hampton, after a service at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in East Hampton. The Manhattan gallery is holding a memorial service for Mr. Christensen on Feb. 5.

The show of his works, which opened Jan. 8, runs through Feb. 17.